Sociologist Bradley Wright talks with Christianity Today about his latest book: Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media. Here is CT’s quick summary of the argument:
Young people are not abandoning church. Evangelical beliefs and practices get stronger with more education. Prayer, Bible reading, and evangelism are up. Perceptions about evangelicals have improved dramatically. The data are clear on these matters, says University of Connecticut sociologist Bradley Wright, but evangelicals still want to believe the worst statistics about themselves.
One question to then ask is why Evangelicals buy into these negative statistics. The subculture argument, when applied to evangelicals, might suggest that these numbers help keep people fired up by reminding them that the group could lose its distinctiveness if drastic action is not taken.
Wright suggests his goal is to encourage Evangelicals:
This is not a call for complacency but for encouragement. Why not say, “We’re reading our Scriptures more than most other religious traditions; let’s do even better”? Instead, what we hear is, “Christianity’s going to fail. You’re all a bunch of failures. But if you buy my book, listen to my sermon, or go to my conference, I’ll solve everything.” These fear messages demoralize people, hinder the message of the church, and hide real problems.
I would like to see exactly what statistics he looks at and debunks. Wright is not the first to suggest Evangelicals have some issues with statistics.